Driving to Suburban Rail Stations Understanding Variables That Affect Driving Distance and Station Demand

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - park and ride, mode - pedestrian, mode - rail, place - north america


service characteristics, pedestrian, drive to station, driving distance


Current research focuses on pedestrian access to transit; however, commuter trains in outlying urban regions serve populations in low-density areas where many people drive rather than walk to transit services. The determinants that influence how far people are willing to drive to train stations and the factors that determine boardings at suburban train stations have not been formally studied. This paper models suburban commuter travel demand by use of the 2003 Montreal, Quebec, Canada, origin-destination survey and onboard survey data from the Agence Métropolitaine de Transport to identify characteristics of individual trips and station characteristics that influence the driving distance to commuter rail and demand at stations. The models show that methods for estimating pedestrian access distance and number of boardings per transit stop can easily be transferred to estimating driving access distance and the number of boardings per station in the park-and-ride context. The model for passenger boardings by station can be used for estimating either demand for a planned station or the effect of service interventions (e.g., parking spots) on boardings at existing stations. The paper also shows that these approaches can be a valuable tool to transit planners interested in increasing passenger demand on commuter rail through a better understanding of service characteristics.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, copyright remains with them.